Ted Koppel among those tricked into new interview with Sacha Baron Cohen

Ted Koppel among those tricked into new interview with Sacha Baron Cohen
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Veteran journalist Ted Koppel said Thursday that he was among the public figures fooled into doing an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of "Borat," as part of Baron Cohen's new Showtime series.

Former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points GAO investigating after employee featured in Project Veritas video Roy Moore dismisses Kavanaugh accusation: 'So obvious' when claims come 'just days before a very important event' MORE have already issued public complaints about how they were involved in segments for "Who Is America?" which debuts on Sunday.

After initially denying knowledge of the incident, Koppel told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Thursday that he was one of several figures in media and conservative U.S. politics who agreed to be interviewed by Cohen, who he says arrived at his home last fall disguised as a wounded service member in a wheelchair and using an oxygen tank.

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"I tried to engage him on that subject," says Koppel, whose said his wife has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), "but he seemed confused. He clearly had no idea about what COPD is, and I felt sorry for the guy, which is obviously how you're supposed to feel."

Koppel said he was contacted by a Showtime producer purporting to be part of a syndicated show centered around "ordinary folk" interviewing experts in American politics, but that the in-person interview with the man who was apparently Cohen in disguise centered immediately around the crowd size at President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE's inauguration.

"When I disagreed, he showed me a photograph on his laptop of a huge inaugural crowd and a man holding a digital clock on a pole," Koppel told The Hollywood Reporter. "The clock said 11 p.m. My interviewer pointed out that if the crowd was that huge at 11, hours after the actual inauguration, it had to have been the biggest ever."

Koppel himself quickly noted inconsistencies with the man's story, and quickly pointed out that the photograph Cohen was displaying was taken in broad daylight. Cohen, he says, pushed back with suggestions that a surprise eclipse had occurred.

"He said maybe it was an eclipse. And I said if it were an eclipse, it would have been dark," Koppel continues.  "And he said maybe it was an eclipse of the moon and the sun eclipsed the moon. I said, 'Wait a second. The sun is many millions of miles away from the moon.' At that point, I realized something was really wrong. And that's when I said, 'Guys, I don't want to be rude; you're guests in my home. But we're done. Break down and time to leave.'"

Koppel maintains that he never signed a release form for the footage, and seemed to take the news of Cohen's involvement better than conservatives such as former Palin, the former Alaska governor, who called on Cohen to donate funds to a veterans charity for disguising himself as a "disabled U.S. veteran" to interview her.

"Everybody loves seeing well-known people get duped," Koppel said. "I relish it, too, when it's done well."

Moore on Thursday threatened legal action against Showtime and Baron Cohen for their "trickery, deception, and dishonesty" in getting him to appear for a fake event on Israel.

Showtime has said that the upcoming seven-episode series from Baron Cohen will “explore the diverse individuals, from the infamous to the unknown across the political and cultural spectrum, who populate our unique nation.”